Thursday night of one of my half-days, and I am waiting for Paul to get home. I am in the process of making dinner. I have already done a load of laundry, there’s another in the dryer right now with another in the washer just waiting its turn to tumble dry. There’s a clean load of dishes in the dishwasher. I am also preparing a lot of things I need to mail out when I go to the post office on Saturday. I’ve cleaned the kitchen counters off and done some things in the living room.
I reread the first five chapters of the Scotty today, and I’ve not been able to stop thinking about them–and by further extension, the rest of the manuscript as I’ve read it this week. I really hate these five opening chapters, hate them. They drag, they don’t make sense, and while there are certainly other moments later in the manuscript where my tendency to have the characters sit around and talk through what’s going on (or have Scotty walking/driving/doing something and trying to think things through), which quite naturally brings the story, pacing and narrative to a complete and utter screeching halt, there are a lot more of those things in the first five chapters (and the prologue) than there are in the entire rest of the manuscript. SO much explaining. A lot of trimming and revision; and I was absolutely correct that the opening scene of Chapter One had to be trashed and completely redone. But at the same time, I am feeling quite up to this task, and am kind of excited about it, to be honest.
I also had an epiphany about my reread of Pet Sematary today. I realized that the reason the book was so hard for me when I read it that first time when I was twenty three was because I didn’t really understand grief at the time; I was well acquainted with misery and despair and hopelessness at that age, but I didn’t even have a passing acquaintance with grief yet. At almost fifty-eight, my perspective is a lot different. Being confronted with such an incredibly powerful depiction of almost unknowable grief made me deeply uncomfortable, made me squirm. The Creed grief is so profound, so powerful, so overwhelming–what pain could be greater than the death of your child, particularly as toddler?–that I recoiled away from it, turned my back on it as if to say no, I don’t want to know this and will never know this.
But that’s absurd, of course.
Rereading the book now, I can see that it’s actually a masterpiece, a tour-de-force. King makes us take a long, hard look at death itself, the greatest fear we all collectively share. Death, as he says in the pages of this exceptional book, is the one thing we never talk about, that we don’t learn how to react to, that we can’t learn how to react to, how to behave, what is the right thing to say to someone who is grieving so deeply, so strongly, so powerfully? We shake our heads and click our tongues to each other and murmur sympathetic things that are just trite words in the face of the monumental grief. There are few books–at least that I’ve read–that deal so starkly with death and what it means, how we all feel about it, what we think about it, and how we deal with it.
The section of the book called “The Micmac Burial Ground” opens with one of the most astonishing emotional gut-punches I’ve ever read in a book; so horrific and shocking is the death of two-year-old Gage Creed that King foreshadowed it in the closing pages of the previous section, openly telling us that Gage is going to die in six weeks…but he doesn’t tell us how.
How Gage dies, how it happens, is so terrible that not knowing going into this section that Gage is going to die would make it too awful. I would have probably stopped reading the book thirty-five years ago had that been the case. That his entire family saw it happen, tried to stop it from happening, and all failed…my God in heaven. The guilt and the grief!
I mean, wow.
It’s now Friday morning, and I am up early to head over to the West Bank to my car dealer for some routine maintenance on the car. I slept pretty well last night, all things considered, and now am on the cusp of a three day weekend, during which I want to get a lot of writing and editing done; and possibly put the finishing touches on some other projects I am working on in the meantime. It would be lovely going into next week with all of these things completed; we shall see how it goes, shan’t we?
Heavy heaving sigh.
And on that note, I should get back to the spice mines.